So there I was, in the drive-through line at my favorite Scottish restaurant, when the scratchy voice on the squawk box asked if I wanted cheese on the breakfast biscuit I just ordered. Sure, I responded impulsively. After all, it’s only another 30 cents and a bazillion extra fat calories, why not?
Well, one “why not” is that I just talked the wife into buying a bunch of berries to put on my cereal, over her protest that I never eat breakfast at home and they’ll just spoil. As soon as she reads this, I’m in the doghouse.
The other is that the day before, I took an online heart-attack-risk test from the Dayton Heart Hospital that concluded if I dropped 20 pounds and quit being such a sloth I might not croak prematurely.
But is it my fault?
Isn’t it corporate America’s fault that they keep pushing the extra cheese, the jumbo fries, the humongous drinks? Can I be blamed for shoving all these delicious calories down my throat in the wake of this promotional onslaught? Aren’t I a victim?
If you answered yes, run (if you’re able; if not, wobble) to the nearest Weight Watchers clinic.
The correct answers are NO, NO, NO.
Unless you’re in a high chair and mom’s shoveling spoonfuls of Gerber down your throat, you own your eating habits.
Said another way, Morgan Spurlock is full of baloney.
Spurlock, you may recall, is the director and star of the movie Super Size Me, in which he documents how he layered on 25 pounds of flab in one month by eating at McDonald’s morning, noon and night. The underlying theme being that Obese America is blameless for losing its battle with the bulge; that we are powerless to resist the temptations thrust upon us by the slicks on Madison Avenue.
To that assertion, I quote the philosopher Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Which is why I was so delighted to read the story in Friday’s newspaper about Merab Morgan. Morgan is a construction worker and mother of two who lives in Raleigh. N.C. She saw the movie Super Size Me and decided it was baloney.
So, for 90 days she ate exclusively at McDonald’s. And guess what: She lost 37 pounds.
How’d she do it? She monitored her calories, of course, just like anyone on a diet has to do. It doesn’t matter where you eat, it’s what you eat.
Morgan followed in the footsteps of Soso Whaley, a New Hampshire animal trainer, competitive roller skater and filmmaker, who did her own counterpoint movie to Super Size Me.
Whaley lost 36 pounds during three 30-day periods in which she ate exclusively at Micky D’s. “I had to think about what I was eating,” she told the Associated Press. “I couldn’t just walk in there and say, ‘I’ll take a cinnamon bun and a Diet Coke.’ I know a whole lot of people are really turned off by the whole thought of monitoring what they are eating, but that’s part of the problem.”
Actually, I monitor what I eat very closely. I monitored that cheese-covered breakfast biscuit down to the last tasty crumb. It’s not monitoring that’s the problem. It’s will power.
Let’s face it, dieting is a lot harder than quitting smoking. I know. I’ve done both. Eating is natural. The body demands nourishment. Forcing ourselves to eat properly and to get off the couch is a challenge.
But I don’t blame corporate greed-heads.
I blame the government.
Also in Friday’s newspaper was a fascinating story about how farm subsidies encourage more junk food in the marketplace.
Instead of subsidizing grain growers, an advocacy group argues, we should be enacting polices to lower the costs of fruits and vegetables, which we need to eat more of.
This begs the question of whether the federal government should be in the food subsidy business at all. But to the degree to which we use tax dollars in the form of subsidies to influence the eating habits of Americans, wouldn’t it make sense to make eating healthier more affordable?
See, we are victims. I blame Uncle Sam, not that fat guy I see in the mirror every morning.
Copyright, 2005, Jeffrey C. Bruce. All rights reserved.